In recent weeks effusive congratulations have been sent to Israel for reaching its sixty-years as a State. Here in Australia, the Prime Minister, and the Liberal opposition, have sent warm salutes to Israel, and in the US there have been numerous extensions of congratulations to Israel for the “progress” achieved in the last sixty years.
For many Palestinians the deafening silence from the Australian government and opposition regarding their sixty years of dispossession and oppression have been considered an insult. In contrast, a few thoughtful columns have appeared in the press written by Peter Manning and Antony Lowenstein and Michael Shaik presenting the case for a recognition by Australia’s leaders of the plight of the Palestinians and some censure of the Israeli State for the excesses that it has committed in the establishment, consolidation and expansion of Israel over the last sixty years.
While these articles and commentaries are important in redressing the imbalance in the news and views about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict there is one element they have overlooked: a common history shared by Australia (and the US) and Israel. What is missing from these commentaries, probably due to the discretion of the authors, and what they fail to mention is that Australia (and the US) are actually extending their congratulations to Israel for following the exact model of state formation that led to the establishment of modern Australia (and the US). Australia and the US, and more recently Israel, have been responsible for committing the “necessary” excesses that allow for the establishment and consolidation of a settler- state on somebody else’s land, an act only possible by force, by imposing dispossesion, by creating oppression and practicing ethnic cleansing (where needed). Finally what all three states have successfully implemented, and this is the most insulting aspect of the process of creating a settler society, is the illusion that the new State is part of the civilised world, that it is a part of the world which adheres to the enlightenment principles of equality and liberty. This is the myth we live in Australia, which is also held by the US, and which we eagerly grant to the Israeli’s, lest our own bloody and brutal past be cast into the open.
What I abbhor as much as the violence, no maybe even more than the violence, is the charade and the hypocrisy that modern westernised states maintain regarding their own brutal and bloody histories, the same charade that Israel and its supporters continue to maintain, regarding the place of Israel as part of the “enlightened world”.